The Atlanta Falcons play their first game since they lost what may be the most unusual Super Bowl ever played. As everyone knows, the Falcons were ahead at halftime by what seemed to all an insurmountable number of points, and in the second hald saw the New England Patriots surmount that insurmountable lead. The rest, as they say, is anguished history. The site for the Atlanta opener is Chicago’s Soldier Field. The Bears were awful last season, as they posted a 3-13 record, winning two of their three games in the final three weeks. Our 2017 Atlanta plays Chicago NFL free pick offers the Falcons at -6.0 and the totals at anywhere from 48 to 49.5 points.
Atlanta Offense vs. Bears Defense
QB Matt Ryan commands the Atlanta offense. Last season, Ryan threw for close to 5,000 yards and hit pay dirt with his arm 38 times. He’s got a solid group of receivers, including Julio Jones who caught 83 passes for over 1,000 yards last season. The ground game is also imposing. Devonta Freeman, who has been a 1,000-plus rusher each of the last two seasons, will be carrying the ball once again today.
The Bear have a very good front seven that’s capable of putting pressure on the QB. However, the secondary was especially weak last season. Chicago has made an effort to upgrade that group. Last year, the Bears were 24th in points allowed (24.9), 27th in rush defense (121.9), and tied for 29th in picks (9). Plus at minus-20, they were dead last in turnover differential. The best part of their D was that they limited teams to an average of 224.0 YPG (7th) in the air. In preseason play, the Bears showed some improvement, allowing 79 points in four games for an average of 19.7 PPG. But then again, that was preseason.
Chicago Offense vs. Atlanta Defense
The Bears had a tough time putting points on the board in 2016. They averaged 17.4 PPG, which was 28th in the NFL. Chicago will start quarterback Mike Glennon. Glennon is 5-13 in 18 career starts with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As Jameis Winston’s backup in 2016, he threw only 11 passes. Quality receiver Alshon Jeffrey has moved on, which means there is less talent in the receiving ranks. RB Jordan Howard offers good ground chops. The Bear frontline is solid and should be a major asset in this game.
Last season, the Falcon D allowed teams 25.4 PPG, which ranked them just above the Bears at 27th. They did, however, show a lot of improvement as the season went forward. They gave up 77 points in the preseason, which was solid. Atlanta does return seven of their best defensive players from last season, including linebacker Vic Beasley (15.5 sacks in 2016), safety Keanu Neal (five forced fumbles) and linebacker Deion Jones (108 tackles). The Falcons had 34 sacks last season, which was the most they recorded since 2006.
2017 Atlanta Plays Chicago NFL Free Pick
In our 2017 Atlanta plays Chicago NFL free pick, we do like the Falcons at -6.0. We are also going with the under at 49.5. Atlanta should come in with all of the wheels greased, while the Bears will be in the middle of test mode. Still, this is a different Bear team from last season, and I do expect them to be fairly competitive today.